In all my years as a mom, bedtime has always been sort of a burden. It is one of those mundane activities that you do over and over again until you go in auto-pilot mode.
Sure, things have changed. My kids are more independent now and for the most part, they can get ready for bed on their own. Besides the occasional making sure they rinsed out all the shampoo, they don’t need my help that much. But still, every night, either my husband or I make sure they brush their teeth, tuck them in, and say a little prayer. Every. Single. Night.
Some days we do it all in 15 minutes, while some other times they decide to have a deep conversation right before I turn off the lights. But the truth is that most of the time I’m in a hurry for them to go to bed so that I can finally watch the next episode of whatever show I’m watching.
A couple of days ago, as bedtime approached, my husband and I couldn’t agree on whose turn it was to put the kids to bed, so we solved it like any other mature adults would do, with a quick game of rock-paper-scissors.
He beat me, so I reluctantly headed upstairs wishing I could have some alone time instead of having to comb their hair and read a story.
The kids overheard us and asked who had won. When I told them their dad was the winner, they both started jumping up and down in excitement as they yelled “Hurry up, daddy!” from the second floor, “It’s your turn to read us a story!”
I was taken aback. My kids thought we couldn’t agree on who was going to put them to bed because we both wanted to do it. They thought we were competing for the chance to tuck them in. In their minds, the prize was spending time with them.
Earlier, as I was going up the stairs, I was thinking I had lost precious time to scroll through my phone or enjoy a glass of wine. However, if I had seen it through my children’s eyes, I would’ve realized that I had won the privilege to hear about their day and to kiss them good night.
Bedtime has become such an ordinary part of the routine that I forgot I’m going to miss them being little, I forgot the excitement I felt when they were born, a time when my husband and I would fight over the chance to hold them, and most importantly, I forgot to be thankful because I get to hug my kids every night.
For years I’d seen putting my kids to bed as a burden, but that night, my boys reminded me that it’s an opportunity to be together.
Yes, we all need a break once in a while. But if we could only see things through our children’s eyes, maybe we would enjoy these short years we have with them a little more. Some days are hard, for sure, but these will also be the good old days that we will remember so fondly.
From now on, every time I win at rock-paper-scissors and I’m lying next to them hearing about their latest Lego creation while I’m looking at the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, I’m not going to hush them, instead, I’m just gonna take it all in and try to remember that the biggest prize I could ever ask for is just to be with them, and nothing beats that.